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How Democracies Perish

David Brooks, “How Democracies Perish,” New York Times: Opinion (1-11-18)

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How Democracies Perish

Notre Dame political scientist Patrick Deneen’s new book, Why Liberalism Failed, is a challenge to those who want to revive the liberal democratic order.

Deneen argues that liberal democracy has betrayed its promises. It was supposed to foster equality, but it has led to great inequality and a new aristocracy. It was supposed to give average people control over government, but average people feel alienated from government. It was supposed to foster liberty, but it creates a degraded popular culture in which consumers become slave to their appetites.

Many young people feel trapped in a system they have no faith in. Deneen quotes one of his students: “Because we view humanity—and thus its institutions—as corrupt and selfish, the only person we can rely upon is our self. The only way we can avoid failure, being let down, and ultimately succumbing to the chaotic world around us, therefore, is to have the means (financial security) to rely only upon ourselves.”

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